Common Sense Review
Updated May 2014

Bean Bag Kids Apollo 11

Interactive ebook lets aspiring astronauts blast off on a moon mission
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 2
  • Navigation is easy with large, bright graphics.
  • Pop-up windows tell the story in more detail and help kids build vocabulary.
  • Kids can read text and listen to a narrator.
  • Activities help break up text and keep kids engaged; more science content would be useful.
  • Kids can explore sketches of the app as a work in progress.
Cheerful graphics and interactive activities tell the inspiring story of Apollo 11.
The activities stray somewhat from the story line and don't assess learning.
Bottom Line
This is an engaging, kid-friendly way to teach kids about an important milestone in the history of space exploration.
Debbie Gorrell
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Gorgeous graphics and friendly narration draw kids in, and interactive activities help keep kids interested.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Kids learn by reading and listening to a story about the Apollo mission. Information is clearly presented in an age-appropriate manner. Content-related games or assessments would help kids retain knowledge.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Kids can listen to the narrator or read the story on their own. Some of the interactive features could use better explanations or directions.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Whether you're teaching kids about space exploration or are simply looking for an inspiring story for young readers, Bean Bag Apollo 11 would be a fun, educational addition to the classroom. For a science lesson, have kids read the story with a partner, taking turns with the activities. Then, review the story as a class, taking note of the important terms and their definitions. Have kids summarize the Apollo 11 mission, and then discuss its importance in terms of scientific progress and our understanding of the natural world. Ask questions such as, "What did the astronauts learn by landing on the moon? Why is space exploration important?"

For a reading lesson, have kids read independently or with a partner. Struggling readers can keep the narration on, and ELL students who are fluent in Spanish can read the story in Spanish first and then in English. When they are finished reading, have kids summarize the main idea of the story. 

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What's It Like?

Bean Bag Kids Apollo 11 is a cheerful, kid-friendly ebook about science and history. The story begins with a sound bite of the inspiring speech from John F. Kennedy about the Apollo 11 mission. Then, a main screen appears and kids can tap the Play button to begin the story. Each screen of the story includes text with highlighting and narration, along with colorful animations. Many of the screens also include a tappable notebook icon. When kids tap on the icon, the story pauses and a pop-up window appears, which includes relevant details and sketches about the story content. Kids take part in the mission by completing brief activities, which are fun and help keep readers engaged. At any point in the story, kids can also tap a small icon to get to a menu. The menu has links to restart the story, change from English to Spanish, or choose a story scene. The parents' and extras sections must be tapped three times to access. The extras section includes links to a soundboard, a "making of" gallery with sketches of the original app storyboard, and a "spot the difference" activity in which kids compare two illustrations to find 12 differences.

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Is It Good For Learning?

By listening to and reading text, kids can learn about space exploration, the role of an astronaut, gravity, and the mission of Apollo 11. Text highlighting can help young learners boost their reading skills, and the narration can be turned off so kids can practice reading on their own. Several pages of the ebook include a small, tappable notebook icon. Kids can tap the icon to learn more about a particular topic and build their vocabulary skills. For example, in the beginning of the story, kids can tap to learn about the job of an astronaut, as well the Greek origins of the word. Interactive activities encourage kids to follow directions and stay engaged, but they don't address the content being taught in the story. Kids will likely have to either read the story several times or complete an outside assessment in order to retain learning.

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